Sunday, April 3, 2011

The vulnerability of being a writer

One of my hot romances sold 3300 copies on B&N last month-- far and away my best seller for the month. This month, it appeared to be picking up steam, with 365 copies sold in the first two days of April. And then, as I have reported below, B&N somehow "recalculated" the book's ranking (I still don't know if this has to do with it being erotic romance or not), so that its Nookstore ranking fell from the 100s to the 1100s. Not long after that, it went from #30 on the PubIt list to nowhere in the top hundred.

The result? Well, more than halfway through the day today, it's sold eight copies. If it's not on the bestseller list, people aren't going to find it. Certainly I may have a few fans who look actively for my books under that name, but on the whole, B&N has made that book invisible, and its sales will probably dwindle to a standstill. Even if I try to get through to B&N's customer service (which I've heard isn't easy), they will probably tell me they've recalibrated the rankings system, and I can't argue that-- how do I know where my book really deserves to be ranked? Or it might just be a "glitch," but the book's already lost its sales momentum, and it's unlikely to get it back.

My point? Well, if I have one, it's that we as indie writers are vulnerable. We aren't selling through too many platforms, and our books aren't available in brick and mortar stores. So if one platform screws us over, our sales can take a very serious hit. It's something to bear in mind when you make that decision as to whether you want to work with traditional publishers or not.

But of course, traditional publishers can screw us over bigtime too (look at the Dorchester debacle if you don't believe me). So maybe the lesson is simply that writing in general is a risky business.


  1. That's why it's important to keep a foot in both camps, if possible.

  2. What J said. It's all a risk, but I think we can at least spread the risk around.

  3. I never did get a chance with a traditional publisher, so I'm hoping I can get somewhere on Amazon & B&N.
    I love your covers by the way! :)

  4. Jordan, I assume that by "both camps" you mean indie/trad publishing. I do admit this all makes me wonder if part of "spreading the risk around" shouldn't be writing for more traditional pubs as well as writing as an indie. Then again, as I said, I guess trad pubs can screw you over too *shrugs*.

    Thanks, Gabriella. My contemporary covers are by TERyvisions:-). Good luck with your writing!

  5. Ellen, That's exactly what I meant. Writers should be exploring as many areas as possible.